Operation Underground Railroad – Part 3
I have never felt so much darkness. After hearing story after story of child abuse, child pornography, child slavery…humankind at their absolute worst, it made me sick. Literally. I thought I must have accidentally drunk the Guatemalan water that I wasn’t supposed to drink, but realized later, that I just haven’t ever felt so much darkness, and I couldn’t handle it. It made me mentally and physically sick.
But then there was also LIGHT.
SO MUCH LIGHT!
The contrast between the two, going from feelings of hate and abhorrence for the perpetrators of these crimes, to feelings of love and hope I felt shining through survivors within hours of each other was a roller coaster I hadn’t anticipated and one I will never forget.
The first time we saw the kids from one of the aftercare programs was at a church. During the service I kept looking down the two front rows of adolescents and children, many holding infants in their arms and I already loved them. Love is a crazy thing. I didn’t know these kids. I had heard some of their stories, but I hadn’t even been introduced to most of them, I didn’t even speak their language…and yet, I loved them. As I worshipped with them in their church, I was filled with light. In that hour, the darkness was gone.
After the service, I got to sit shotgun with Lilly, the owner and operator of the aftercare home. As we drove to the home, she told me how she used to run an orphanage for babies, but she decided she wanted to work with older kids where she felt she could better use her talents to make a difference. Her life’s journey of service was inspiring to say the least. She also told us more stories about the kids we were about to officially meet. Darkness tried to creep its way back in, but somehow sitting next to her strength, her light, it didn’t overtake me. It was present, but not in control.
(Lilly is in the middle)
When we entered their home all the kids were already there, seated in a semi-circle ready to greet us. We took a seat and then something amazing happened…. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see and hear from these kids…maybe sadness and discouragement, or hate and anger like I was feeling. But the exact opposite was what I experienced. I watched survivor after survivor ages 6-19 stand, and with a big smile on their face, introduce themselves to us and I saw not darkness and hate in their eyes – but LOVE and HOPE. It was hands down one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I had to keep turning my head to hide my tears.
Before I left for Guatemala I had asked my family and friends to pray for me so that I could handle what I would see and hear. Just so I could handle HEARING about what these people have been through. I haven’t been thrown in a fire by my mom, or forced to do unspeakable things to paying customers. I am not 14 years old raising my child whose father is also my father. But I had the opportunity to meet the sweetest girls and boys whose stories these are. I had been allowing hate and darkness to overtake me after hearing what some of these kids had been through, and they weren’t even my stories. But not so with these kids. Somewhere along their path they must’ve figured out that hate doesn’t help. Darkness just brews more darkness. So they choose light and it radiates from them.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
After the introductions, we were treated to a delicious meal, and then we had time to hang out. We were told they liked to do crafts, so we brought them our favorite hair brushes and some flip flops to decorate.
They also took us on a tour of their home and I loved seeing their faces light up as they showed us their rooms.
We were in awe of the bond these two aftercare angels had with these sweet kids. You could see the love and admiration these kids have for these two amazing people that have helped get them where they are today.
It was hard to leave this little slice of heaven on earth – to leave these strong kids and the amazing people who have built their lives around serving them. Day after day fighting darkness would be so hard and definitely requires a lot of light. But I am not worried. They have a LOT of it. They are superheroes of light.
When I returned home it took me a while to process all I had seen and heard so I could figure out, what can I do to help? I came to the realization that it is not my time right now, to (like Diane or Lilly), open an orphanage or after care program where I could help change lives every day. It is not my calling to go bust down doors to expose and arrest the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, although I wish I could. But I can sure help fund those amazing people and operations that are doing just that.
Operation Underground Railroad and the partners they work with are doing powerful things. They’re going into the belly of the beast and fighting evil and darkness with goodness and light. I know quite a few people who get uncomfortable when we talk about human trafficking and child sex slavery. GOOD! It should make you uncomfortable. It’s, in my opinion, one of the most awful things going on in our world.
Before I went to Guatemala I knew there was a problem. I knew this evil existed. But I felt intense darkness in realizing just how deep it is. My eyes were opened to a different level of evil that I didn’t know existed – that I sometimes wish I didn’t know existed. And it isn’t just a little here and there…it is ALL over, even in my little town of Boise, Idaho. In fact, did you know the US is the #1 consumer and producer of child pornography? This is a real and awful thing facing our world. Child slavery is a problem EVERYWHERE. And Operation Underground Railroad is fighting it on all fronts all over the world.
In one of the fabulous O.U.R. documentaries, Tim Ballard (founder of O.U.R.) talks about how he learned from an amazing little survivor (that he eventually adopted) the key to fighting darkness is service. It is how he deals with all the darkness he encounters. Helping others.
There are SO MANY that still need to be rescued. That is where you and I come in.
Right now, the biggest need O.U.R. has is financial. We would love you to join us in becoming an ABOLITIONIST! Having seen O.U.R. in action, we know firsthand that these funds are being used sacredly and correctly.
Consider giving even just $5 a month, or if you can do more, FANTASTIC! This is such a worthwhile cause. I’m willing to give up two Diet Cokes a month in order to help! Are you?
My monthly abolitionist payment is a tiny drop in the bucket for what is needed. But together WE CAN make a substantial difference in helping this amazing cause.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
― Helen Keller
I promise that when you see this charge show up on your credit card or bank statement each month, it will make you happy. Happy knowing you are joining thousands of others, each of us doing our small part, to help obliterate child slavery.